Rural  Households Left Out of Internet Growth

Reading reports of internet growth over the past year, I learned that U.S. households consumed an average of 268.7 gigabytes (GB) of data in 2018. This is up from 201.6 GB for 2017, according to OpenVault, a leading provider of industry analytics and technology solutions for ISPs.

Some other findings by OpenVault:

In 2018 the percentage of households exceeding 1 terabyte of usage was 4.82%,

The rate of households using 1terabyte all more almost doubled in 2018, rising to 4.12% of all households up from 2.11% in 2017.

In 2018 the percentage of households exceeding 250 GB rose to 36.4% up from 28.4% in 2017.

Impressive growth across the board, indicating that consumption is growing across service providers’ entire subscriber bases, not just among the heavy users,  good news for everyone with one exception. Rural households that do not have access to high-speed internet did not experience any of this growth.

According to reports by the California Public Utilities Commission, less than half of roughly 680,900 households in rural California have broadband access. And, many of those that are connected have services which do not meet the minimum standards of 6 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up, or the FCC standard of 25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up.

It is highly unlikely that rural households will get any high-speed internet access in the near term. The brightest light on the horizon is service by the LEO satellites that will be coming online in 2020, maybe late in 2019 at the earliest.  

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Fiber: Nevada City is Missing the Revolution

I am reading Susan Crawford’s book Fiber: The Coming Tech Revolution—and Why America Might Miss It. She is a Professor at the Harvard Law School. Amazon’s summary of the book:

The world of fiber optic connections reaching neighborhoods, homes, and businesses will represent as great a change from what came before as the advent of electricity. The virtually unlimited amounts of data we’ll be able to send and receive through fiber†‘optic connections will enable a degree of virtual presence that will radically transform health care, education, urban administration and services, agriculture, retail sales, and offices. Yet all of those transformations will pale in comparison to the innovations and new industries that we can’t even imagine today. In a fascinating account combining policy expertise with compelling on†‘the†‘ground reporting, Susan Crawford reveals how the giant corporations that control cable and internet access in the United States use their tremendous lobbying power to tilt the playing field against competition, holding back the infrastructure improvements necessary for the country to move forward. And she shows how a few cities and towns are fighting monopoly power to bring the next technological revolution to their communities.

To my surprise, Nevada City/Grass Valley and John Paul of Spiral Internet has a role in the book. His fiber project is used as an example of the struggle that private citizens must endure while attempting to bring fiber to a community that does not recognize the economic potential and only provides lukewarm support for the project.

It is important that the community, the local government, have some skin in the game; the lack of such involvement in John Paul’s Nevada City/Grass Valley has made it very difficult for him to privately finance the building of the Chip Carman network.

This is only one of the ten references to Nevada City in Fiber: The Coming Tech Revolution—and Why America Might Miss It.

According to Crawford, Nevada City/Grass Valley are missing the fiber tech revolution.

Editor Note: Since Fiber was published, John Paul has sold his fiber project to Race Communications.  Nevada City/Grass Valley may still get some economic fiber. If you want to understand the fiber network issues I highly recommend reading Crawford’s book. 

Nevada County: Bright Fiber Project Approved by Public Utilities Commission

The California Public Utilities Commission on Thursday unanimously approved the Bright Fiber high-speed internet project.

The commission’s vote means a $16 million grant initially slated for Spiral Internet is now in the hands of Race Communications. It also approves Race’s acquisition of Bright Fiber, which it will operate as a subsidiary.

The Union has the Story

 

Collins Coming For FCC Subsidies

— Rep. Doug Collins , the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, is gearing up to introduce legislation aimed at tightening requirements for the FCC’s broadband subsidies under the Connect America Fund, according to letters circulated by his office and obtained by POLITICO. Some subsidy recipients “have taken taxpayer dollars but failed to fulfill their obligations to their customers,” the Georgia lawmaker wrote in a letter seeking co-sponsors for the measure.

— “The CAF Accountability Act ensures that CAF recipients are reporting the speeds they are actually providing consumers – not those that are the product of gamed performance testing software, unrepresentative sampling, or repeat testing locations,” Collins continued. He alleged that ISPs in his rural district offer “consistently bad” speeds below what’s required of their subsidies.

One of the advantages of having a recording box that samples the speed every 30 minutes and then can be plotted on a graphic, provides clear evidence what speed the ISP is providing.  This is my DIY recorder.  Good up to about 250 Mbits.

Raspberry Pi BB Recorder

Here is a sample output:

Wave Tri Display

Telecom Predictions for 2019

POTs and PANs as some insight to the future of telecommunications in 2019. Doug Dawson has these rural broadband predictions. My emphasis added in red.

Rural America Will Realize that Nobody is Coming to Help. I predict that hundreds of rural communities will finally realize that nobody is bringing them broadband. I expect many more communities to begin offering money for public/private partnerships as they try desperately to not fall on the wrong side of the broadband divide.

We’ll See First Significant Launches of LEO Satellites. There will be little public notice since the early market entries will not be selling rural broadband but will be supporting corporate WANs, cellular transport and the development of outer space networks between satellites.

Big Companies Will Get Most New Spectrum. The biggest ISPs and cellular carriers will still gobble up the majority of new spectrum, meaning improved spectrum utilization for urban markets while rural America will see nearly zero benefits.

Full Article is HERE.

 

FCC: Pai’s Future

— FCC Chairman Ajit Pai didn’t quite rule out an eventual run for office and said he hopes to find common ground with lawmakers in the new Congress in an interview with Margaret for C-SPAN’S The Communicators. He said his 2019 agenda will focus on rural broadband, telemedicine, 5G, public safety communications and robocalls.

— On Mobility Fund : Pai wouldn’t say the consequences carriers could face as a result of the investigation into whether one or more carriers overstated their wireless coverage for maps that will determine eligibility for subsidies under the $4.5 billion Mobility Fund program. He said the agency is committed to getting accurate data first. “Our goal is to make sure that we get the data right that will allow us to make an informed decision about where that funding should go.”

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech [Emphasis Added]

High-Speed Internet Project for Nevada County Gets Green Light (Docs)

The California Public Utilities Commission has signaled approval of the sale of Bright Fiber Inc. to Race Communications with some changes, a move that after months of inaction advances a high-speed internet project in Nevada County.

The CPUC on Monday released a resolution detailing the changes, which include having 75 percent of the project on existing utility poles instead of “primarily underground.” Additionally, the utilities commission grant — which comprises 60 percent of the total project cost — will be reduced by almost $70,000, for a total of $16,086,789.

The utility commission must approve the sale — a vote scheduled for Jan. 10.

Read the Rest of the Story in The Union